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Hardball With Chris Matthews

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Iraq 18, Us 12, Vietnam 9, United States 8, Afghanistan 7, Sarah Palin 7, Karl Rove 6, Washington 5, Romney 5, America 5, Paul 4, Angie 3, Wolfowitz 3, George W. Bush 3, Bush 3, Dennis 3, Warfarin 3, Saddam Hussein 3, Chalabi 2, Scott 2,
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  MSNBC    Hardball With Chris Matthews    News/Business.  (2013)  (CC)  

    March 19, 2013
    4:00 - 5:00pm PDT  

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passionate minority. i was there from the start. i can remember marching, urging president bush to stop the war. i can still remember comforting anti-war activists like cindy sheehan. i met her near president bush's texas ranch. at camp casey. named for her son. he was killed in action in the war. from day one, i didn't agree with the invasion of iraq. but i always knew how important it was to support our troops. especially when they came home. the president talked about it in his state of the union. >> we will keep faith with our veterans. investing in world class care, including mental health care. for our wounded warriors. supporting our military families. giving our veterans the benefits and education and job opportunities that they have earned. >> over 1.1 million americans served in iraq, and over 32,000
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returned home with severe combat wounds. it's a big reason why 45% of veterans from iraq and afghanistan are seeking disability assistant. it's a staggering number. the wait time for that help is even worse. on average, it's over 300 days for our newest veterans. our veterans deserve better. yes, some of us marched against the war. but we did not march against the troops. we did not march against those that served the country. it seems that some of us was against the war and some that were for the war are now against the warriors that fought the war. you've got them in many cases wounds that they didn't te serve. to neglect them now is to pour salt on those wounds. we cannot be a nation that would make mistakes like the war and
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then turn around and forget those that we used to enact the mistakes. ten years later, let us at least have the decency to take care of the veterans that stood up. as flawed as the policies were, they flawlessly put their lives on the line and come home expecting this nation to stand up for them. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. let me start tonight with this. the scariest aspect of the american invasion of iraq ten years ago today was the ease with which it was sold to the american people. my generation grew up believing aggression was evil. in our schoolbooks and in the war games we played as kids, the aggressor was the bad guy. call this if you will a too
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basic way to look at war. it is, however, the way we were taught. hitler invaded poland, japan attacked the united states in pearl harbor. north korea invaded south korea. waging of aggressive war was the crime. in history and in the judgments following world war. i saw this one, the war in iraq coming, from the first days after 9/11. there were those in the bush administration who saw this as their opportunity. they were helped by war hawks on the outside. "the washington post" op-ed page. the weekly standard. the new republic were open billboards for the relentless push toward war. establishment media joining in offering uncritical coverage of the administration line. this is not a good statement about the american press. i'd like to believe my generation, especially those who grow up in maturity to the horror and dishonesty of vietnam would have spoken loudly against the war hawks. few, mostly on the left, did. fewer from the middle. still fewer from the right. what's worse than that in those months of late 2001, 2002, and early 2003, to oppose the war when there was time to stop it,
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worse yet, to question its motivation, was to cause trouble for yourself. even when a whole new vocabulary, wmd, homeland, regime change, freedom fries, coalition of the willing, was being confected and infiltrated into our national dialogue. the mainstream media was useless. even when the culture of the country i.t. itself, country music was drafted into service with twisting appeals to vengeance for 9/11. remember how you felt? no wonder cheney's arrogant to this guy. no wonder bush is effectively clueless. no wander the war hawks are shameless. all of them together got away with it. it was the people of silence. the newspaper editors. the network executives. the mostly respected columnists who know what they did and did not do who are wrestling now not with the history of the american invasion of iraq, we're all doing that, but their own history in doing nothing to ask the hard questions. persisting again and again with that hardest question of all. why? it had to be answered. was it being answered in
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principle and the language consistent with our american traditions? no. we're joined right now by nbc's great investigative correspondent michael isikoff. equally great david corn. they're the co-authors of the book "hubris." the inside story of spin, scandal and the selling of the iraq war. i'm speaking now to two experts. ten years ago today, president george w. bush announced the start of the invasion of iraq. he told americans we were doing it to prevent a terror attack on us. here he is. george w. >> our nation enters this conflict reluctantly. yet, our purpose is sure. the people of the united states and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. now that conflict has come, the only way to limit its duration is to apply decisive force. and i assure you, this will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory. >> is he doing this -- i can't figure out george w. bush.
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maybe he's vacuous, working for cheney, or moved by the winds. he says in the opening speech why we went to war that very day, there'll be no half measures. no substitute for victory. was that because his dad stopped short of taking baghdad? >> i think there were a lot of reasons that drove the whole administration in this direction. there was the neocons pushing for change. >> ideological. >> ideological throughout the region. there were people, maybe rumsfeld and cheney who had his view of oil and strategic minerals and all sorts of things close to the neocons. i think bush is in some ways the most simple and complicated of all. you can talk about what happened with his dad and saddam hussein, but i also think after 9/11 he felt this urge to be proactive. you know, go after afghanistan and then when that kind of faded away, he had to do something to show he was protecting the country. he needed a target. he needed to convince people, maybe convince himself, that he was doing something to protect america. everybody was pointing in the same direction. they all ended up in the same conclusion, iraq, let's get iraq.
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>> for different reasons. do you have a sense on this? the big question people ask? why did bush want to do it? >> i mean, there is the famous line when he went to the fund-raiser in texas and says this is the guy who tried to kill my dad. so that's, i think, a part of it. it was clearly on his mind. david summed it up very well. just one additional point in terms of the atmospherics surrounding 9/11. remember, bush did almost nothing about the warnings pre-9/11 from the intelligence community, and i think that if -- >> you mean al qaeda to attack in the united states? >> yeah. i mean, there were repeated warnings from the cia. george tenat had his fair on fire. >> richard clark was talking about it. >> they pretty much brushed aside. they were not focused on a threat from al qaeda, then 9/11 happened. if there was guilt about anything that was a factor in here, it would be we didn't do what we should have done prior to 9/11 so now we're going to take every single threat super seriously.
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>> the odd thing is, one reason they didn't focus on al qaeda before 9/11 is because they were consumed with iraq. really. they kept dismissing al qaeda and saying iraq is the real threat. >> right. >> then 9/11 comes. they go after iraq. >> many neocons thought iraq would be the first prize, first piece of the puzzle, reordering the middle east. here's what dick cheney said in august of 2002 during the run-up to the war. "regime change in iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region. when the gravest of threats are eliminated the freedom loving peoples of the region will have a chance to promote the values that can bring lasting peace." the main focus has always been iran. why would he say iraq even then? >> i think it goes back to the fact for years, five, six, seven years before 9/11, the neocons and others were focused on iraq because they thought they could basically get a foothold there. you can't take out iran, you might take out iraq. >> it was breakable. >> it was breakable. it was doable. it was hittable. you can't do the same operation against iran. they needed a target.
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and that was an -- not an easy, but, you know, seemed the easiest target for them. i do think they believe their own spin. if you got in there, everything would just fall into place. >> let's get to the positive side. let's talk the freedom agenda. the notion, we all argued about at the time, to somehow if you broke iraq, a bad baathist administration, you could replace it with something like democracy. then the neocons, the intellectuals would say this. somehow that would spread around the region. i haven't heard that argument. >> no, well, because it obviously didn't work. >> we've had the arab spring, though, which is a much more rocky proposal. >> to some extent, let's not forget the role of ahmed chalabi. interestingly, i don't know if you saw -- >> the guy in the gold shoes and gold pants. >> the iraqi exile, snake oil salesman as we called him at "newsweek" at one point. interesting. wolfowitz gave the interview the other day of the "sunday times" of london. he was asked about chalabi. he was one of chalabi's champions. you know, wolfowitz, fife,
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pearl, all them. >> tony miller. >> he says, you know, the other day, he said, well, he wasn't straight with us. >> okay. >> this is one of the first mea culpas on that i've heard yet. >> if you want to believe something, you'll believe anything. the war was sold to the public, however, as necessary to stop a mad man who was intent on, here's the key word, amassing an arsenal of weapons including nuclear weapons. let's listen to the buildup here. >> we know they have weapons of mass destruction. we know they have active programs. there isn't any debate about it. >> i believe saddam hussein presents a clear and present danger to the united states of america with his continued pursuit to acquire weapons of mass destruction and there's very little doubt that he would use them. >> simply stated, there is no doubt that saddam hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. there is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.
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>> the problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. but we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. >> they kept doing this shell game. whenever they couldn't prove nuclear, they'd say wmd. then they would throw in the word mushroom cloud to make sure you knew it was nuclear. then they would come up with this balsam wood drone they said he had and somehow became an existential threat to the united states. how did they put it all together? >> this was throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what would stick. they would drop things, come back to them. depends on the intelligence. >> that's why i believe it had nothing to do with wmd. >> i don't think it was. >> they wanted something to stick to the wall. >> they kept saying, too, this argument. certainty, certainty, certainty. no doubt he's amassing. there was plenty of doubt. they kept making it, listen, saddam hussein, as you said, is an existential threat to united states. even if head some wmds, it doesn't mean he's a threat to the united states. but they conflated all this together.
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>> you showed that clip there of cheney giving the speech at the vfw cutting to zinni. that's from our documentary. >> you hated every word he was saying. >> zinni says which we'll re-air friday night on this network. when he heard cheney make those remarks he literally bolted from his chair. he was in total shock at hearing cheney make those comments. because he knew. he had seen all the intelligence as commander in chief of centcom up until 2000. he knew there was no amassing of weapons. >> it was a cost/benefit sales program. they basically said we have to do it. because of our own threat to our country. not israel and the region. the mushroom cloud. >> that was the public argument. >> that was the public argument. then they would say to us, don't worry, it will be a quickie, a cake walk. here it is. those pushing the war argued it was necessary and would pay for itself. that was another part of it. the gas would pay for it. here was dick cheney. let's watch. >> do you think the american people are prepared for a long, costly, and bloody battle with
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significant american casualties? >> i don't think it's likely to unfold that way, tim, because i really do believe we will be greeted as liberators. >> well, there's bill kristol, one of the other leading war hawks. he said he predicted the duration of the war would be short as well. let's listen to this group think here. >> whatever else you can say about this war, let me just make one point. george bush is not fighting this like vietnam. we don't need to re-fight the whole history of vietnam. >> saddam may be. that's the dangerous -- >> it's not going to happen. this is going to be a two-month war, not an eight-year war. >> daniel ellsberg who knew about earlier wars. >> the thing is, they said whatever it took. they had no backup for this sort of stuff. we were talking at the time to analysts in the strategic war colleges and others who were coming up with reports saying this could take forever. we don't know the difference between a sunni and a shia. they may not greet us as liberators. for everything they said with assurance, you could find people at the time who knew better. >> we are all part of organizations.
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i'm part of the organization here. and you get into a group thinking, you all talk to each other like you're on a common effort. you know what you're doing here, you're putting on a pretty good television show about politics. when did they decide they were going to war, michael? when did everybody know -- the theme here is, stop arguing about it, we're going. >> nobody knows the answer to that question. you talk to every senior person in the bush administration who was there at the time. they all say it was never clear when the decision was made. there was never a meeting. there was never an actual breakpoint. >> isn't that astounding? >> whether it was go or no go. >> didn't anybody raise their hand and say when did we decide to do? >> it was an assumption that sort of congealed. >> this is when i get chilled. i'm getting a chill. this is what i'm afraid of in this kind of stuff. >> right after 9/11 -- >> nobody's thinking. >> rumsfeld, pointing to iraq. and bush, to his partial credit, says, no, we're going to do afghanistan first. don't bother me with another war. >> i get that report, myself. >> but soon after that, within months, you know, they're
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talking to the commanders about putting together a war plan. >> by the end of 2001, i think the deal was on. >> look, yeah, one of the new documents we have in "hubris" in the documentary is the rumsfeld talking points for his meeting in november 2001. one of the talking points, how to start the war. >> you're right. >> what are we going to use as the pretext? >> already been done. michael, you guys are great. i could do this all night. michael, david, thank you. >> thank you, chris. >> i mean it. a big thank you for what you've written and what you've done. by the way, friday, as michael said, 9:00 p.m. eastern right here on msnbc a re-air of that terrific documentary "hubris" based on the book by these two great guys. michael isikoff and david corn and going to be presented by rachel maddow. after the documentary, a special panel to talk about the bush administration, how it misled the country, misled itself, getting us into that destructive war in iraq. that show is called "talking hubris." it airs at 10:00 this friday night. coming up, the cost of war.
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more than 100,000 iraqi civilians dead. nearly 4,500 americans dead. 32,000 americans wounded. what kind of care do those wounded americans get right now since they've been back stateside? we don't think enough about the people with broken bodies that come home, do we? not enough. plus back to politics. the empire strikes back. a lot of people on the right are very unhappy with this big republican. the big shots, i call them, telling them what they have to do to change. they don't want to change. they're conservatives. rush limbaugh says the problem is not that the gop is too conservative, it's that it's not conservative enough. is that what the gop is? is that why they lost five of the last six elections? not conservative enough? when good republicans go bad. see what happens when republicans begin attacking each other. the main event. i'd go on the road with this baby. sarah palin. the white trunks. karl rove in the black trunks. what a tussle. let me finish with the circular firing squad now assembled in the republican party. it's a beaut to watch.
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tonight president obama is traveling to israel in his first foreign policy trip since winning re-election. tomorrow he'll met with israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. topping the agenda, iran's nuclear ambitions. on thursday the president will tour the west bank and meet with mahmoud abbas, president of the palestinian authority. then friday it's on to jordan for meetings with king abdullah before returning back to washington on saturday. we'll be right back. [ engine sputters ]
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welcome back to "hardball." of all the ways the iraq war was sold to the american people under false pretense, one of the most galling was we could win this war on the cheap both in lives and in treasure. a new report from brown university, the cost of war study, proves just how wrong that early promise was. the cost in lives was of course overwhelming and far more than predicted. in total, more than 190,000 people lost their lives due to the war. 70% of them were iraqi
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civilians. that's 190,000 people dead. to give you an idea of the enormity of that number, enough people died in that war to fill yankee stadium. there it is. every seat of that stadium four times. and the cost of the iraq war was the other con job, the financial cost sold to the american people. the brown university study estimates the iraq war did eventually cost this country over $2 trillion. $2.2 trillion. hardly the price tag they were pushing in the beginning. michael hastings writes for "buzz feed" and covered the iraq war for "rolling stone" and wrote a book about it. "i lost my love in baghdad." which is a personal story. his latest book is "panic" about the 2012 election. paul rieckhoff, executive director and founder of the iraq and afghanistan veterans of america. from 2003 to 2004 he served as army first lieutenant in iraq. let me start with michael about the cost figures. i have to call it the bs that was sold. this war was going to be paid for by cheap gas. cheap gasoline.
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somehow were they just going to open up the pipeline from iraq over to america? we get all that stuff? we get first dibs? we got nothing of the kind. let's start with the lives. 190,000 dead people. >> if you remember famously general eric shinseki said we would need more troops to do this and he was dismissed. remember, paul wolf wits did actually make the claim that iraqi oil revenues would be able to pay for this conflict. and not only would the selling the war point and the costs of the war, you know, in your last segment you made this great point about the media. it's even -- you can go even further than that. the media was complicit. the media took an active role in selling this war. they met with wolfowitz. there was one famous meeting where you had these top columnists and pundits meeting with wolfowitz trying to figure out the best way to sell this thing. it's not a shock the facts we were getting weren't accurate either. >> what do you mean by the media? do you mean opinion columnists
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on the right or mainstream reporters. >> mainstream reporters to opinion columnists. there's a famous scene in bob woodward's, his last book about the iraq war where paul wolfowitz brings in columnists from "the atlantic," one from what was formally "newsweek" and basically says to them, look, i'm bringing you guys in as advisers. help us figure out a way to pitch this war to the american people. none of those journalists disclosed that in their future columns to promote the war. >> i'm with you. you're dead right. if anybody was there, they have to answer for it. lawrence lindsay, white house economic adviser at the time, made war with iraq make it sound like it wouldn't cause a dent in the u.s. economy. a washington times interview quotes him saying, "the likely economic effects would be relatively small. if the united states goes to war in iraq to depose saddam hussein." he went on to praise the war's upside. "the key issue is oil and a regime change in iraq would facilitate an increase in world oil which would tend to lower oil prices here." in 2002 -- there's more of this. >> oil prices went up. the number i always used to say when i talk about iraq often and paul and i would have these
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debates and when this was really in conscience, $20 billion on air-conditioning in iraq per year during the height of the year. $20 billion on air-conditioning in iraq and afghanistan. >> in 2002, richard pearl, chairman of the defense policy board said we are not talking about a massive ip vags along the lines of '91. we're talking about a much more modest effort in which the united states would assist iraqis in freeing their country. let me get over to paul about the manpower and loss of lives. and the world you live with. 31,000 wounded. about 600 amputees. give me a sense of your own personal experience with what the personal cost of this war was. besides the loss of 4,000 american service people? >> we didn't see too many of those air conditioners. when i was in iraq, i lost friends. we lost colleagues. we saw a lot of carnage and destruction. and i think the real untold story is the price we're going to pay for generations to come. a million veterans, including myself, served in iraq and are now home.
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and we all know that there was a real shortage of planning on the ground in iraq. they didn't have enough interpreters. didn't have enough body armor. didn't have enough humvees. there's a shortage now on the home front as veterans are coming home. there aren't enough paperwork processors, aren't enough psychiatrists, there aren't enough counselors. so we've got an opportunity here to repeat the mistakes of what happened on the ground in iraq as all these veterans come home. we're not doing enough. this week that's what our organization is really trying to focus attention taking care of our brothers and sisters who come home and have challenges and really need everybody to double down. >> michael, that's another thing. i remember looking at a poll about the time we went into the war. it said if we're going to face, the united states, significant casualties, should we go? a slight majority, 51%, said we shouldn't go. there was this delusion. i think it was a sold delusion. it was sold to the people that somehow this would be skip in, skip out, lose a couple guys like in grenada, couple hundred people, it was bad, but it
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wasn't the end of the world. that attitude, this is going to be a pretty clean -- used words like cake walk. remember those terms. you know. >> this was going to be our next stage in exercising the demons from vietnam. people were thinking more gulf war i than vietnam. anyone who brought up at the time, hey, this could turn out to be vietnam was literally laughed aside, was considered not credible. so i think it was very clear they were trying to make -- sell this as a nonviolent thing. you know, around the time paul was over there you had the defense secretary here saying it's just the dead enders. you had cheney saying the dead enders and rumsfeld saying there's not an insurgency. i would want to ask paul, when you're hearing that when you're actually in combat, i mean, if you're paying attention to that stuff, but that was part of selling it, too, we're going to be home by christmas. would -- when any general or any president says the troops are going to be home by christmas, you know they're lying. it happened in world war i, it happens all the time. >> paul, you were serving our country, thank you for it. do you have a sense there was an
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ideological piece to this, not democrat versus republican, but this belief we could go into a country like iraq, get rid of its military from top to bottom because we didn't like the politics of its leaders and start all over in a way that was far more difficult than it would have been if we stood up the army they had, work to clean out the crazies then gotten out of town. then we wouldn't have lost so many guys it seems to me. >> there was a clear disconnect to the realities of war. there was definitely too few people who had personal experience. and now i think, you know, you still see that. you know, secretary hagel has an opportunity to put a human face on the department of defense and on our troops in combat. he's an example of someone who understands the human cost of war, himself. but i think we're still paying for the costs of war of vietnam. i'm in washington this week with veterans from all across the country who are advocating for reform at the v.a. there are about 900,000 folks, disability claims, waiting at the v.a. to be processed. many of those are vietnam veterans. they're not just iraq and afghanistan veterans. the wait time for first-time
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claim is about 300 days. if you're in a city like new york, it's 600. if you're in l.a., it's over 600. if you're in, you know, your area in philly, 517 days in philly. so we're not taking care of vietnam vets, not taking care of our iraq and afghanistan vets. i think that's the real story this week. the media, if they want to do a makeup call, here's the issue to do it on. focus on our veterans. >> we'll do it. i promise you. paul, get back to us. we'll get back to that. by the way, i want to see the new v.a. director is. that's an important position. thank you, michael hastings and paul rieckhoff as always. we'll be right back after this. [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles
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duracell with duralock. trusted everywhere. for current and former military members and their families. get advice from the people who share your values. for our free usaa retirement guide, call 877-242-usaa. ha! back to "hardball." now the "sideshow." for all the craziness we saw at the conservative political action conference, cpac, if there's one visual i won't forget it's likely to be sarah palin producing a big gulp
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during her speech. every so often a politician turns to props like that to get their message across. over the years i've seen the winners and the losers. let's start with the winners. first think back to the heat of the health care debate in 2009. alan grayson brought a few posters along. >> if you get sick in america, this is what the republicans want you to do. if you get sick, america, the republican health care plan is this. die quickly. that's right. the republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick. >> well, now to the campaign trail. remember when mitt romney's advisers said a transition from primary season to the general election campaign was almost like an etch a sketch? you can kind of shake it up and start all over again? well, enter romney's opponents giving new life to what i thought had become a forgotten children's toy. >> imagine, had mitt romney been around at the time we were drafting our constitution? he'd have just shaken it and just shook it up after to
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-- it was approved to rewrite it. >> given everything people have said about governor romney's flip-flops over the years, this was sort of capturing what everybody was afraid of. in a way we probably ought to thank his communications director for telling the truth. >> finally, minnesota senator al franken made the transition from comedy to politics he left funny stuff behind to take on serious issues. still the two worlds of al franken merged when he rattled off a list of potentially dangerous consequences of not raising the debt ceiling back in 2011. >> no federal government employees, including counterterrorism agents, in the fbi, for example, no border agents. now, before we default, we could have time to make this sign for all points of entry.
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that's just the tip of the iceberg. >> i think he was being sarcastic, don't you? now to the ones who were ill advised for whatever reason. first iowa republican congressman steve king with the solution to illegal immigration in the form of a construction project on the house floor. >> you can't shut that off unless we build a fence and a wall. i want to put a fence in and a wall in. i designed one. this would be an example, then, of how that wall would look. you can also deconstruct it the same way. you can take it back down. i also say we need to do a few other things on top of that wall. one of them would be to put a little bit of wire on top here to provide a disincentive for people to climb over the top or put a ladder here. we can electrify this wire, not a current that would kill anybody, but would be a deterrent. we do that with livestock all the time. >> we do it with livestock all
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the time. now for one that made the loser list because it never came to fruition. "just before advocates for senior citizens plan to host on stage a 24-foot cabin cruiser bearing the slogan "medicare vouchers are a titanic mistake," the capitol police sank the reference judging the symbolic titanic too heavy for the stage. authorities banished it to the side depriving senator edward m. kennedy and other speakers of a camera-friendly backdrop." finally the one that struck me as more than your typical political fumble, think 2003, president george w. bush and an aircraft carrier. yes, the "mission accomplished" banner that accompanied bush's 2003 speech about the end of major combat operations in the iraq war. of course, it backfired big-time and the blame game began. white house officials said the piece had been requested by the navy, but also confirmed that the production and placement was up to them. in a 2008 interview, w. himself said the banner, quote, conveyed the wrong message. i'll say. duh. up next, rush limbaugh isn't
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happy about the republican hunt for a big game change. he says the problem with the republican party, his party, isn't that it's too conservative. but it's not conservative enough. i love him dancing there. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball." the place for politics. nnouncere are secret black market websites around the world that sell stolen identities? >> 30-year-old american man, excellent credit rating. >> announcer: lifelock monitors thousands of these sites 24 hours a day. and if we discover any of our members' data for sale, lifelock is there with the most comprehensive identity theft protection available. [♪...] [squealing, crash] call 1-800-lifelock or go to lifelock.com today. look what mommy is having.
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call... and ask about all the ways you could save. liberty mutual insurance -- responsibility. what's your policy? i'm melissa ray burger. t.j. lane, the teen who fatally shot three students at an ohio school to shoot last year was sentenced to three life terms. he wrote a t-shirt with the word "killer" written on it. seven marines were killed in nevada during a live fire training exercise. a statue of liberty is scheduled to reopen on july fourth. the statue and liberty island have been closed since hurricane sandy. back to "hardball."
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there's no one reason we lost. our message was weak. our ground game was insufficient. we weren't inclusive. we were behind in both data and digital. and our primary and debate process needed improvement. >> there's the lift of a driving dream. welcome back to "hardball." rnc chair reince priebus there reporting on the state of the republican party. it brought relief to establishment types. but also angered conservatives who say priebus, that man there, was exactly wrong, that the party can't win if it moderates its right wing positions. here was rush limbaugh reacting to priebus. >> they think they've got to reband. they've got to reach out to minorities. they've got to moderate their tone here and moderate their tone there. that's not at all what they've got to do. all they have to do, the republican party lost because it's not conservative. it didn't get its base out in the 2012 election.
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>> well, it wasn't just rush. the statement from the tea party patriots reads "americans and those in the tea party movement don't need an autopsy report from rnc to know they failed to promote our principles and lost because of it." the anti-abortion group susan b. anthony list responded by saying, republican candidates failed to properly engage on the pro-life issue. this latest report shows they have failed to learn from it. rather than seeking to grow and energize the pro-life majority, the gop has aloud itself to operate solely on the defensive. michael steele, former chairman of republican national committee as well as msnbc political analyst. susan milligan is contributing editor at "u.s. news & world report." your thoughts now. is priebus right? are the critics, the defenders of the old order right? >> look, there's a combination here that has to take place. all i want to say at the outset, is that if that's all it took to keep my job was to not have a ground game and to not win elections and to just raise a lot of money, i just want to
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know, you raise $300 million, you can't win one election? i mean, it makes no sense to me. i think the base is right to say that in terms of the message there was no cohesion, there was no way to grab, to pull the people toward something positive. we were on the defensive for 18 months. how does that happen? when you don't have a ground game, when you don't have a message, you don't have organization, i guess that's what happens. >> susan, the big question here -- >> i want my money back. >> i will now make a totally nonpartisan point of view which is true. every political party that blows it says we didn't get our message across. they all say it. in other words, our message was divine. >> there's truth to that to a certain extent, chris. you know, part of the process begins with how you communicate what you believe. >> is that why mcgovern lost? is that why goldwater lost? didn't get their message across? is that why mcgovern -- >> that's a different era. >> your party got its message across with the 47%. that got the message across. >> that's part of it. >> that was what the party believes. >> that's not what the party believes. that's my point. >> it's what romney believed. he said it. >> that's what romney said. that's not necessarily what
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anybody else believed. but that's what he said. and that's the problem. when you have -- >> he was faking it being an elitist? >> i don't know what -- >> i think one of the things -- >> mitt romney was faking it as an elitist? >> i think one of the things that was interesting in that report aside from the demographic stuff which should have been pretty obvious to them which they should have figured out years ago. >> there are an increasing number of hispanics. >> which they're in complete denial over during the campaign and that was obvious even in the autopsy they did last november. they said the image of the party was one that was kind of just old and stuffy and mean and intolerant. and they're not helping -- now, most republicans -- i don't see you that way -- most republicans i know are not like that. but the loudest republicans -- >> what about the image of republicans being mr. wilson in "dennis the menace"? get off my lawn, kid. is that the republican party? get off my lawn? >> mr. wilson was a democrat. >> i don't think so. i heard angry reaction to what the gop autopsy report might mean for the 2016 republican primary including fewer debates
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an earlier convention and voting via primaries, not caucuses. a rand paul adviser told "politico," "elimination of caucus would mean nuclear war with the grassroots, social conservatives and the ron paul movement." brabe brabe brabenber said "i am troubled by the possibility of a condensed presidential primary process which undoubtedly gives an advantage to the establishment backed candidates and the wealthiest candidates." we have in the meetd ya love the primaries. we in the media love them. those debates are wild. the craziest people out there. herman cain and his 9/9/9. you had bachmann. we want the full show. you elite party people want to hide the crazies. you want to hide the crazies. >> no, chris, i was the one who opened up the process. absolutely, i agree with both of those gentlemen in their campaigns. absolutely. this process should be opened. it should allow for the base to express itself, number one. and for candidates to have a fair shot to make their case. >> what's the elite up to? >> they want to control the
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outcome. they want to control the outcome. they want to make sure it's nice, clean and tidy. i'm sorry. politics is not nice. it's not clean and it's certainly not tidy. >> susan, in our business, i know we want wide open. we want the spectacle. we want to see the fights. ask any so-called media liberal person, they still want to cover the '68 democratic convention than any convention in the world because it's the biggest show. >> absolutely. the problem the party is having now is the same problem it was having during the campaign which is that it's let this element of the party define it and let it define it increasingly. yes, they needed them to get out a certain part of the base, but that cannot be the message for the entire party or they will never win another election. >> who's going to win? insiders or outsiders? >> you know who i'm keeping my eye on? rand paul. >> i think you're right. >> i think he's got something there. he's pulling the party back to its fundamental core root about individual independence, liberty and freedom. that libertarian notion. >> get those barry goldwater buttons out. the ones that say 27 on them.
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27 million votes in the country, but boy, had a good time doing it. rand paul. he can win the nomination. he will not win the general. hillary clinton versus rand paul. >> you laugh now. >> that's a tough one. >> that's a good one. that's a good one. >> you're a party man. anyway, thank you, michael and thank you, susan. >> thank you. up next, sarah palin versus karl -- this is my favorite road show. give me the don king. put him on the stage. go across the country with him and her. what a show. it's a spectator sport when republicans attack each other. and they are colorful. this is "hardball," the place for politics. i'm the world's worst cleaning lady.
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new poll numbers from florida where republican governor rick scott's in real trouble. let's check the "hardball" scoreboard. according to a new ppp poll, governor scott is trailing his predecessor former republican turned democrat charlie crist. crist at 52%, scott down to 40% and we'll be right back. this day calls you. to fight chronic osteoarthritis pain. to fight chronic low back pain. to take action. to take the next step. today, you will know you did something for your pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is a pain reliever fda-approved to manage chronic musculoskeletal pain. one non-narcotic pill a day, every day, can help reduce this pain.
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for bringing us together. angie's list -- reviews you can trust. [ ship horn blows ] no, no, no! stop! humans. one day we're coming up with the theory of relativity, the next... not so much. but that's okay -- you're covered with great ideas like optional better car replacement from liberty mutual insurance. total your car and we give you the money to buy one a model year newer. learn about it at libertymutual.com. liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy? this is going to be fun. we're back. it's no secret karl rove takes a dim view of sarah palin, and she returns the favor. last weekend their long simmering feud boiled over after palin slammed rove's efforts to vet more electable candidates
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during his cpac speech. >> if these experts who keep losing elections, keep getting rehired, raking in millions, if they feel that strongly about who gets to run in this party, then they should buck up or stay in the truck. buck up and run. the archi-tex can head on back to -- [ applause ] -- they can head on back to the great lone star state and put their name on some ballot. though for their sake, i hope they give themselves a discount on their consulting services. >> and that didn't sit well with the architect himself, karl rove. he hit back hard. the very next day on fox. >> if she can play in primaries, other people can play in primaries. i'm a volunteer. i don't take a dime from my work with american crossroads. i even pay my own travel expenses out of my own pocket.
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i don't think i'm a good candidate, a balding fat guy. second of all, i'd say if i did run for office and win, i'd serve out my term. i wouldn't leave office midterm. >> punch. i'd serve out my term. this is more than a personal battle. palin and rove are the faces of the rift within the republican party. and rove are the faces o rift in the republican party. the right wingers versus the establishment. the hardball strategy are here to argue this out. who should they bet on? is the face of the party that should win? strategizie ining maybe to win . palin or karl rove? >> i'd rather have neither out there. i think karl rove knows how to win elections. i think sarah palin's days are numbered. i think rove hit it exactly right. you can't quit midterm and she was you know, she had a -- >> you're so cold about this.
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i have never seen, i don't agree with anything she says, but that is a political genuine article. she puts on a better show. that's why she died on fox. look at her on the stage. it's all kin etic. she's a very attractive person. look how she dominates that stage. what is it? something else? >> she looks great. she's a great show person. but wasn't a particularly good governor. she quit midterm. i think that killed her and she really can't articulate in any convincing way, a philosophy that works in the future. >> michael, can you squeeze the juice out of a grapefruit and still sell it? >> watching these two up there -- >> answer my question. a little bit of crazy and just get the architecture and still have a winning party. >> no, you can't. she's no longer the leading edge
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of the tea party movement, but she does stand for them and when she's dictated to by the consultant class, when she looks at these operatives saying hey, we're going to stifle the grass roots, there are a lot of people nodding their heads up and down. you look at rand paul, something like that building a movement. would karl rove say you can't compete in the republican primary process. >> a closed shop is not going to sell with the republican party. >> i think there is a rebellion against the bush years. i think that with the tenth year of anniversary of remark, i think there's a rebellion about the expansion of government. the fact you have a huge home land security and they feed off that. there's some validity there. that's why rand paul is a very interesting candidate. >> yesterday, while delivering the gop autopsy report, reince
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priebus said there would be a -- and then donald trump. he says let's get more white people in the country. >> it also means ending the poisonous practice in treats americans of different social, ethnic, religious groups, as different electorates to be pandered to with different promises. if we truly believe the words of our other founding document, the declaration of independence, with its world changing assertion that yes, all men are created equal, then there are no hispanic issues or african-american issues or women's issues. they're only american issues. >> why aren't we letting people in from europe? i have many friends, many, many friends, and nobody wants to talk this. nobody wants to say -- >> she comes up and says no more
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hyphenated americans. he's out there making a pitch for white americans. why did they invite this guy? >> for the life of me, when we don't invite the two most popular governors and have donald trump, he's a terrible politician. the fact of the matter is that i think that sarah palin's right on one thing and that is that we are not a pandering party. we are a reform party. but we have to reform our message and make sure everybody understands. >> how does the democrats hold off against any republican comeback? it's going to be tough in 2014 for the democrats. how do they avoid the slide back that seems to occur after a presidential election? >> the math in the senate is increasingly competitive, but it's more than just message, chris. while sarah palin would like to point to the rhetorical problems that the party had, if their policies aren't appealing to
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middle class voters, african-americans, hispanics, women, then they're not going to win elections and they're going to lose midterms, too. >> thank you so much. happy st. patrick's day. when we return, let me finish with the circular firing squad in today's republican party. "hardball," the place for politics. what's impressive? a talking car. but i'll tell you what impresses me. a talking train. this ge locomotive can tell you exactly where it is, what it's carrying, while using less fuel. delivering whatever the world needs, when it needs it. ♪ after all, what's the point of talking if you don't have something important to say? ♪ a regular guy with an irregular heartbeat. the usual, bob? not today. [ male announcer ] bob has afib: atrial fibrillation not caused by a heart valve problem,
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